The perennial debate over nature versus nurture has a new venue: your waistline. According to a news report today:
“Your friends may be more important than your genes in determining whether you gain weight, according to a new study billed as the first to demonstrate that obesity tends to spread through social networks.
“The study, which followed a group of Americans for more than three decades, found that a person’s chances of becoming obese increase dramatically after a close friend or relative fattens up. The same thing happens when someone close slims down.
“The authors of the paper speculate the reason is ‘the spread of norms from people to people. People change their minds about what constitutes an acceptable body mass index’ as their close friends gain or lose weight, said co-author Dr. Nicholas Christakis of Harvard Medical School.”
No doubt we are social beings, taking our cues from those around us, though of course our genetics still must be accounted for. The good news is that we have more influence than we think. Let’s use it wisely.